Why Coronation

Under the Westminster system of government to which our Australian Constitution binds us, we were represented at the Coronation in London by the the King’s representative, the Governor General, together with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. What is the significance of the Coronation, occurring as it does for the first time in 70 years, well beyond the experience and memory of most of us?

The Service began with a 14 year old choirboy welcoming the King on behalf of youth. What an amazing story that young man will have to share with his children and grandchildren!

The King responded to this welcome in the words of Jesus from Mark 10:45.

In his name and after his example, I come not to be served, but to serve.”

Shortly afterwards the King was presented with a Bible and told that it is the greatest possession we have. This was not one of the novelties suggested by the media in the weeks leading to the event. The presentation of the Bible at the beginning of the Service has set the tone for the Coronation of kings and Queens since1689 AD, when Mary II and her Dutch husband William III were invited to reign over England, France and Ireland. The essence of their contract was drawn from Magna Carta signed 500 years earlier in 1215 AD limiting their rule according to “law and custom”.

Since the significant contract made towards the close of the seventeenth century the royal commitment has been more specific. Mary and William consented to

maintain the laws of God,

the true profession of the Gospel, and

the Protestant Reformed faith established by law”

It was encouraging to hear King Charles III consent to that ancient principle and to hear him pray sincerely for grace to fulfil his responsibility. Time will reveal how successful he will be. Inevitably success will be measured from a human point of view by comparison with the long faithful service of his mother Queen Elizabeth II. Christian people do well to pray for the King and for Queen Camilla to be faithful in the way that every believer in the Risen Lord Jesus should be.

Despite the usual placards of those “exercising their right to protest” and calling for the abolition of the monarchy, the whole event has been a media achievement almost without comparison. Vast numbers viewed the funerals of the late Queen and her husband the former Duke of Edinburgh. Thankfully the Coronation did not require someone to pay the supreme sacrifice! It is estimated that 400 million people viewed it in person or online. In the first three days following the event there were more than 3 million hits on the YouTube recording of the whole service.

Typically British street parties – one hosted by the British Prime Minister in Downing Street – together with concerts and the presence at the Coronation of some 90 Heads of State from across the world added to the festival atmosphere. It is interesting that none of the royal heads of state were accorded coronations. Only the United Kingdom persists with the opportunity for the people to interact with the King confirming their mutual support for that constitutional monarchy. One novelty in 2023 was the special acknowledgement received by the King from heads of other faiths.

Australia’s Prime Minister, like his political party, is publicly committed to changing the Australian Constitution regarding the position of Head of State, yet he took the vow of allegiance to the king under the current Westminster system, as he should. Protagonists for the removal of an English Monarch from that position are understandably aggrieved and some have been vocal in their condemnation of the Prime Minister.

One of the strengths of the Westminster system of Government is its ability to change without severing relationships; something testified to by the great Commonwealth of nations which has evolved from the old British Empire. Those claiming to have a better system will need to convince the Australian electorate that an apolitical head of state is not as effective as a refugee from the political circus which a vibrant democracy produces.

For now God Save the King!

  • Tom Halls